This issue, concentrating on fantastical police investigations, is quite good. Even the third and final story, which gets off to a rocky start, is good.
The first story, written by Jack Miller and illustrated by Mort Meskin, is the best. A police inspector discovers he doesn’t just have insight into a bewildering case, he’s also–indirectly–the cause. Miller only has a minor surprise but his inventiveness more than makes up for it. The realistic Meskin art is a fine touch.
For the second story, Miller looks at a male model turned F.B.I. operative. The story’s silly but passable. Curt Swan does a nice job on the pencils, inked by Sy Barry.
The final story is sort of silly, sort of not. An Interpol agent is after a bad guy, chasing him across the globe. Bill Ely’s seems lacking at the start, but quickly becomes essential.
It’s hard to say who’s more enthusiastic about The Flash–Robert Kanigher or John Broome. Kanigher does the origin, Broome does the second adventure. Broome tackles time travel… Kanigher has Flash in a speedboat. I guess Broome wins.
Both have Carmine Infantino (inked by Joe Kubert) on art. Infantino doesn’t quite know how to tell a superhero story in this issue. His panels are all matter-of-fact and he doesn’t dynamically compose them. Flash in the speedboat is beyond silly.
But Kanigher and Broome–while writing a boring character in Barry Allen–manage to still write a compelling one. The stories’ villains are goofy; Barry’s excitement at his new abilities make up for them.
I don’t think I’ve ever read these stories before. They’re extremely influential, not just for DC, but also for Marvel (particularly Stan Lee’s Spider-Man origin).
The stories are guardedly ambitious, especially the Broome one.
There’s not much to this issue besides Russ Heath’s fantastic artwork. Robert Kanigher’s script is pedestrian and predictable (for the most part).
It’s the story of a new frogman during World War II. The protagonist is short, which leads to teasing (even in the Navy). The teasing is aggravated by the protagonist’s ability to lip read. It’s a nonsense detail Kanigher uses to pad out the story, which is told in three parts.
For a while, during the first chapter, it seems like the story might have some factual basis or some interesting information about the Navy Underwater Demolition Teams. But then there’s a shark attack and all reality goes out the window.
Worse, Kanigher continues the bullying against the protagonist after he saves his antagonists’ lives (from the shark). The antagonists don’t even acknowledge the protagonist’s heroism. It’s painfully obvious Kanigher is padding.
But there’s some great Heath art.
Good grief. I thought I was going to be able to talk seriously about this comic, starting with the story of a young Native American lad whose spirit animal keeps saving his butt, then through the story of a misunderstood youth and his mutt… but the final story is about a circus bear who escapes.
Now, the circus bear knows he has it pretty good at the circus, he just wants adventure. So the story–which, sadly, does not have an author credit–proposes the idea circuses (in the fifties) treated animals well. It’s also this Disney-like look at animals, which talk and think. It’s incredible. Russ Heath’s art is pretty charming, actually.
The Joe Kubert art on the Native American kid story is okay, some great vistas, but Ross Andru and Mike Esposito bore on the orphaned kid one.
This comic’s glorious nuts (and completely unaware of it).
The first issue of Showcase might feature “real life” heroes like firefighters, but there’s still limited danger. In the three stories, no one gets seriously injured and the protagonist–fireman Fred Farrell–successfully saves not just a frightened child but also a baby elephant.
While the first story (Farrell passing his final firefighting test) does have some character drama, the rest of the stories are just Farrell against the elements. The third story doesn’t even showcase Farrell’s heroics, it’s more about informing voters to give more money to firefighter’s salaries. Amusingly, the bad guys in that story are the small businessmen out to make a buck and young mothers wanting better education for their children.
Arnold Drake’s scripts aren’t bad–the comic is probably edifying as a look at fifties firefighting tools and techniques. Ditto for John Prentice’s artwork. It’s never exciting (and his faces are boring), but it’s competent.
Well, I guess Betrayal does change some things to make the ending more in line with the first movie. All apes can be scientists–doctors–but I don’t think there were any chimp doctors in the first movie. I think they were still stooges to the orangutans. Humans are banned from the city. Those two changes about cover it.
Bechko and Hardman establish Zaius as a bad guy at the end, not out of some willful evil but through his embracing of ignorance. Maybe if the comic had been Zaius’s story, how he became corrupt, the ending might have some resonance. But it does not.
There’s a set-up for a sequel, with a gorilla and a human hanging out. Sadly, there’s nowhere for the story to go. The secret ape prison is closed too. Bechko and Hardman are inexplicably reductive.
Great artwork though. Hardman’s art just gets better throughout.
I wonder if Betrayal got four issues because Hardman agreed to do four issues. There’s not enough story for four issues; there’s probably only enough for two. Bechko and Hardman are introducing all these characters–or, if they’ve introduced them before, they’re now giving them more page time. But there’s still the pointlessness.
So what if the good guys are in danger? I don’t even know the female chimp’s name. And the sympathetic Doctor Zaius stuff continues, but without any ties to other stories in the franchise, the character’s presence is far from imperative. For a second, I thought Betrayal might tie a little into the first Apes movie… but it doesn’t seem to do so.
Even worse than boring is the pacing. Bechko and Hardman don’t pace the story to take advantage of Hardman’s art. And there’s no other reason to read the comic, so the art should rock….
The second issue of Betrayal has fantastic Hardman art and still no compelling story.
Bechko and Hardman seem to think setting a comic near the original movie is enough, but they’re ignoring the years of Apes comics before this one. While truly original content is off the table, the Ape prison introduced here is a bore. Betrayal isn’t even an exercise in constraint–Hardman’s (great) art opens up the planet from the movie’s confined one.
Maybe the one interesting aspect–in terms of continuity and franchise–is evil Dr. Zaius from the first movie being… ahem… humanized. But I think the second movie already did something similar (and I know comics have in the past). Having a heroic gorilla general is pretty cool, but the narrative doesn’t even follow him. Instead, Bechko and Hardman check in on their pedestrian conspiracy.
I wish it were better, but it probably can’t be.
It’s almost like a mantra… there are no new Planet of the Apes stories to be told, regardless of title, creator or company. Betrayal is no different. There are pro-human apes, anti-human apes and a conspiracy against either or both. It’s the way Apes comics have always been.
Except the art.
Gabriel Hardman brings professionalism and talent to Betrayal. It’s the best Apes art in decades, whether it’s Hardman’s take on the apes themselves or the fantastic action sequences. He has this chase sequence and it’s absolutely stunning what he gets done in a page. The implied transitions between panels are sublime.
The script, from he and Corinna Bechko, isn’t bad. Like I said before, the plot’s nothing new, but the characters are well-realized and some are quite likable.
Unfortunately, the cliffhanger doesn’t particularly grab one’s attention, but it could be worse.
Great art, totally harmless story.
Untold Legend limps across the finish line. Aparo’s art doesn’t even maintain interest (his “handsome man” standard is really boring and in this one a lot). But it’s mostly because Wein doesn’t have any interesting flashbacks this issue.
There’s Commissioner Gordon, which should be more interesting–it briefly recounts Gordon’s time spent hunting Batman–but Wein doesn’t give it enough time. Then Batgirl gets a few pages. Again, not paced well and quite absurd. Gordon’s standing around his office talking to himself about his daughter being a superhero.
Then the final flashback is Lucius Fox for a page. It’d be pointless if there were any point to Untold Legend except as a primer for new or returning readers.
But Wein’s writing isn’t even on par for marketing material. Hostess Fruit Pie ads are better written.
The ending’s nearly iconic though, maybe the quintessential (good) Aparo Batman story closer. Very memorable.
With Byrne gone–and Aparo taking all the art duties–Untold Legend actually becomes visually distinctive. While Aparo’s faces aren’t compelling, he does a lot of nice work this issue. Wein’s script covers a lot of events and Aparo has a particularly nice time with Alfred’s flashback. The war panels are excellent.
This issue, Wein covers Robin and Alfred’s origins and also Two-Face and the Joker. The most interesting historically continuity details? Wein’s Joker isn’t insane, he just thinks being funny looking will scare people. Also Alfred… he wasn’t always the Wayne butler. Wein should have told the whole series from Alfred’s perspective.
Somehow having the comic less from Batman’s perspective works better. Wein’s Batman is obnoxious.
Like I said, the series is worth a look just for historical interest with the mashed together origin events, but Wein’s framing story is just plain lame.
It’s not even a mystery.
The Untold Legend of the Batman might have good art… but it’s hard to tell. Each page is packed with panels–except one pin-up page, which is pretty good–and it’s hard to get a handle of John Byrne’s pencils (with Jim Aparo inking).
Some of the pages are pretty good though, but it’s certainly not a comic to read for the art. Sadly, it’s also not a comic to read for the writing.
Untold Legend is a streamlined retelling of Batman’s original, adding in all the Earth-One origin developments. It’s excellent as a curiosity (I’d forgotten teenage Bruce Wayne was Robin to some police detective) but Len Wein’s writing is atrocious.
Most of the comic is Bruce retelling his history to Alfred. One would assume Alfred would know some of these events, if not all.
The issue’s painful at times, a shopping list of contrived origin events.
Well, Hollywood’s never going to go for this ending. No jet pack, to say the least.
I was talking with a group of writers once about novels and one said, “all novels end poorly.” I’m not sure I agree, but Luther Strode certainly ends poorly. But it doesn’t change my opinion of the series overall.
Jordan takes himself very seriously as a writer and this issue shows it. He even writes about the decision-making process and the morale of the story. He should have put that energy into a good last issue.
It’s not just the writing either. Moore’s art is still energetic and enraptured in the series’s violence, his pacing is just off. Some of it’s Jordan’s multiple false endings, but Jordan’s writing for emotional effect and Moore isn’t drawing for it.
So, even with a lame ending, Luther is a good series. Desperately needs an editor though.
It’s another very fast issue. Jordan gets in some humor with the girlfriend and the sidekick, which is good. Luther’s not in a jokey place, but the sidekick definitely has a good scene for it.
This issue ties directly to the first one? Remember those passages of time I mentioned Jordan having problems with a few issues ago? It was totally unclear, from the framing device, Luther was still in high school. While it works fine narratively, it shows another place an editor should have done his or her job.
Luther is a little too confusing for its cover price. Jordan might think it’s a cute move, but a monthly comic can’t expect too much….
It’ll play great for the movie deal though.
The issue ends with another cliffhanger; it’s decent but not great. Jordan all of a sudden has made the series very restricted.
It’s a mildly disappointing development.